Boston Mag – In a city that’s seen many long-standing symbols of its identity fade or disappear completely over the past couple of decades, the [South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade] is a weirdly charming, down-home affair that remains resolutely and authentically local, to a degree equaled by little else. Which is why it’s such a shame that the city seems intent on destroying the one thing that makes it so great: the long-condoned ability to enjoy an adult beverage on the street. In 2009, the Southie state senator Jack Hart told the Herald that “there’s going to be zero tolerance for public drinking at the parade this year.” The Boston Police Department increased the number of officers assigned to the parade that year by 50 percent, some 600 in all, who dutifully issued something like 400 citations and made 13 arrests. The following year, Daniel Linskey, the BPD superintendent in chief, clucked that “it’s a day for families and kids, but the feeling that some have is that this is a Mardi Gras atmosphere.” For 2011, Mayor Menino issued a statement imploring everyone to “contribute to a positive and welcoming environment for all”—except, that is, anyone who might enjoy a nice cold beer while standing on the sidewalk, watching high school marching bands from the Berkshires freeze their epaulets off. When I called the BPD to see if they’d be lightening up this year, they responded: “The parade is a family event, officers will strictly enforce the laws related to public drinking.”…That, of course, was before the city started its crackdown, which has turned the revelers into enforcers and made the parade into a husk of itself. Which is an absolute shame, because the Southie parade is a throwback to a stranger and more authentically local time.
Amen, brother. Preach on, Boston Magazine, preach on. It’s refreshing to see someone in this town who gets it. Who resists the urge to take the cheap and easy route of posturing about what a menace the parade is and how it’s nothing but a bunch of drunken, stupid, pie-faced, criminal hooligan shitheads who ruin it for decent people and their poor traumatized children. Mayor Menino been beating that same drum from the moment he hit office 30 years ago. And God knows he’s had plenty of help. I promise you that St. Patrick’s night every local news show in the city is going to do a report that goes like this: “And today of course was the traditional St. Paddy’s Day Parade in Southie. And estimated 600,000 people lined the parade route and police made 4 arrests.” It doesn’t matter whether those arrests were for outstanding warrants or jay walking or driving without a license. The story is there was a parade, and a bunch of dumbass Micks were thrown in the slammer because they’re all drunken assholes.
Well I am an asshole. And I can assure you I’ll be drunk. But that doesn’t make me a drunken asshole. In fact, I can’t ever remember seeing anyone acting up at this thing. What the mayor and all his minions on the No Fun Police don’t get is that it shouldn’t be a crime to have a beer in public. That’s a simple fact that’s understood in every city in the world besides us and probably Mecca. I mean, comparing Southie to Madri Gras isn’t just laughable, it’s patently ridiculous. Anyone who’s ever been to New Orleans would take one look at the St. Paddy’s parade and think it’s a funeral procession. Or that we live in a police state, which isn’t far from the truth. Look, I’m not condoning assholery. But I’m an adult who should be allowed to red cup it (or Dunkin Donuts cup it, which is the new hotness) in a free country. If I act up, arrest me. If my boorish, offensive behavior terrorizes some poor family who came down from New Hampshire, toss me in Shawshank. But saying I can’t have a beer while behaving myself is not only stupid, it’s oppressive. Let me celebrate my culture and heritage, like you do the Carribean Festival, Gay Pride, Columbus Day or any other ethnic parade in town. Hell, just treat me like you do those stoner hippies who stink up the Common every year by leaving me the hell alone. No Guinness, no peace. @JerryThornton1